DoD News Briefing - Rear Adm. Craig R. Quigley, DASD PA
Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I have a couple of announcements. Then I'll be glad to take your questions.
The Department of Defense will participate in the Disability Mentoring Day, sponsored by the White House tomorrow, by hosting nine students with disabilities. The students will attend a short luncheon program in the Executive Dining Room and then accompany their mentors throughout the afternoon. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Equal Opportunity William E. Leftwich III will host the event. Speakers include Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy Gail McGinn and Dinah Cohen, director, Computer and Electronic Accommodations Programs, and Jennifer Kemp, from the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities.
Yesterday Secretary Cohen met with General Crouch and Admiral Gehman, the co-chairs of the commission that will study the bombing of the USS Cole to extract lessons learned. Secretary Cohen told them that the goal of the lessons learned inquiry is to improve force protection and that they would have the full cooperation of the Joint Staff and the Office of the Secretary of Defense. General Shelton also attended the meeting.
Secretary Cohen did not set a deadline for the work but said he hoped that they would complete their review as soon as possible.
General Crouch and Admiral Gehman are currently hiring a staff, drafting a work plan, and arranging travel to Aden. I expect that they will give you a briefing on their plans in the next several days.
Next, we are pleased to welcome 20 students from Indiana University today. They are participating in various internships throughout the Washington, D.C., area, including the Department of State, the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Army, working in Senator Lugar's office, and various nonprofit organizations. And today they are touring the Pentagon, with a specific focus on the Army. Welcome to you all.
And finally, we are pleased to welcome Mr. Boris Vlasic, a journalist from one of Croatia's leading newspapers, to our press briefing today.
He is visiting the U.S. as a participant in the International Visitor Program administered by the Department of State. Again, welcome.
With that, I'll take your questions.
Q: Craig, could you discuss the high alert levels in the Gulf region and exactly what prompted the U.S. military to go to those levels?
Quigley: I'll try. As I'm sure all of you are aware, the entire Central Command area of responsibility went to what we call Threat Condition Charlie immediately after the attack on the Cole. Now, today, the circumstance is that we have gone to a higher level, Threatcon Delta -- Threat Condition Delta -- in both Qatar and Bahrain. We did that, as we do with all such continuous assessments, based on a receipt of credible -- or, I'm sorry -- specific threats against U.S. forces in those two areas. But in some cases, and this one in particular, the credibility of the threat information was simply unknown to us. But given the circumstances, the recent attack on the Cole and the generally higher level of threat throughout that region, we thought it was simply the prudent thing to do to go to that higher threat condition in those two specific areas.
Q: What about Turkey?
Quigley: As I'm sure you all are aware, the focus, or the local commander, we feel, is the best person to have a fundamental understanding of the threats that are facing his or her area of responsibility. So we put a great store in that local commander's judgment and initiative to go to a higher level of a threat condition if they think that's the appropriate thing to do.
In this case, given the receipt of the threat information against U.S. forces and the recent attack on the Cole, that initiative in those two areas was supported by the Central Command commander, and that's where we find ourselves today.
Q: You say the credibility is in question, of these threats. Where were the threats received? Were they intercepted by intelligence, or were they direct threats being made to the military, or what?
Quigley: I will say that they come from intelligence sources, Charlie, but I hope you'll forgive me if I am not forthcoming in being more specific in the detailed composition of those threats. They were specific enough -- and, again, given particularly the backdrop of recent events in that area -- to, again, say to those local commanders that this is the prudent course of action to take and we would certainly support their initiative.
Q: Craig, you made it sound like the initiative started by the commanders in theater. Is that correct?
Quigley: The information on the threats that was perceived by the intelligence community against the U.S. forces in those areas is communicated not only to the local commanders but up and down the chain of command, Carl. So it was not like it was only shared with the local commanders. But given the information that those local commanders have at their disposal, this is a continuous iterative process, I guess I would call it. And there's the discussions with the local commanders, with the theater commander, CINCCENT, General Franks and his staff, the joint staff. This is a collaborative process in each and every case, and that was certainly the case here.
Q: Last night some of the people that I talked to, some of whom you're intimately familiar with, said that Incirlik was on that list.
Quigley: That was a report that was just simply wrong. Incirlik was not on that list.
Q: And to continue --
Q: -- along the same line, parts of Saudi Arabia were mentioned by the same people.
Quigley: Also incorrect, I'm sorry to say. The two that have gone to the higher threat condition, the Delta, are Qatar and Bahrain.
Q: So nowhere in Saudi Arabia or Turkey are any installations at Delta?
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how many U.S. forces are involved in this and what they will now do, what sort of action they'll now take?
Quigley: Well, in each of the threat conditions, where you go up with Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta, each is a more restrictive set of security precautions that you take on the local level. They are increasingly restrictive in the movement of people, in the checking of visitors, in the checking of vehicles, in the offset of allowed parking next to facilities, buildings and the like. So each of them is more -- progressively more stringent in the application of security procedures. Each is also more difficult to sustain for an indefinite period of time. But you do what you need to do, and if you really do have information that you think is specific and credible and presents a real possibility of danger to your forces at the local level, you're going to take the prudent course of action, the conservative course of action and go to that higher level.
Q: And the numbers of the people?
Quigley: The numbers of the people that we're talking about here in the three -- or the two areas, I'm sorry, there's approximately 1,100 U.S. military personnel in Bahrain.
Q: Plus civilians, or --
Quigley: Now, to that I would add family members. And I don't have a number for family members on that.
Q: Plus family members.
Quigley: Plus family members, that's right.
Q: Does that include --
Quigley: Contractors would also not be included in that, as they are not necessarily permanently stationed there.
Q: Does that include ship crews?
Quigley: No. This does not include ship crews, no. These are principally the U.S. Fifth Fleet staff. But there are others. There's a naval support activity that supports the fleet operations and whatnot.
Q: But if a ship is in port in Bahrain, they would also come under this Delta, right?
Quigley: If -- yes. Any U.S. forces in either of the two areas would by definition be included in the higher threat levels.
Q: But no ships are in port, right? Isn't that --
Quigley: No ships are in port.
Quigley: Vessels in the Fifth Fleet will remain at sea for the foreseeable future.
Now, also --- so 1,100 in Bahrain, fewer than 50 in Qatar. So that's quite small.
Q: Turkey did not go to -- or, Incirlik did not go to Delta, but did they not recently heighten their security alert status?
Quigley: They have gone to Charlie. They did that, I want to say two weekends ago. I'm not absolutely sure on the date. But it has been recently. Since the attack on the Cole.
Q: And what was that based on?
Quigley: Again, specific information that the local commanders there in the region of Incirlik Air Base felt was enough of a reason to have them do the cautious course of action and go to the higher level.
Q: And when did Bahrain and Qatar go to Delta?
Quigley: Over the weekend, I believe.
Q: Craig, was the threat specific enough to indicate a particular type of military target? Either a ship, or --
Quigley: I'm sorry, I'm just not going to go into any of the specifics of the information that we took to base that decision on. To acknowledge the specifics of how much we know and from where we would know it is counterproductive. And I'm sorry, I can't do that.
Q: Just to finish up Carl's question, the number of U.S. in Qatar?
Quigley: I'm sorry?
Q: The number of U.S. people in Qatar?
Quigley: Oh. Less than 50. Just under 50, yes.
Q: What are they there for?
Q: Qatar: what are they there for?
Quigley: We have prepositioned equipment there, and this is people that manage that and provide security for that.
Q: How much prepositioned equipment do you have?
Quigley: I don't know. It's a pretty good amount, but I'm not sure.
Q: Does that include aircraft, or what is it?
Quigley: No, aircraft come and go for exercises, but none on a permanent basis.
Q: Craig, when's the last time you've had a D level in that region? And can you give us any --
Quigley: Following the African embassy bombings in 1998.
Q: That's been it, then?
Quigley: Yes --
Q: That's the last Threatcon D?
Quigley: Yeah, that was the last time we went to Threatcon Delta in that part of the world, yes.
Q: And do you know how long --
Quigley: I don't know how long it lasted.
Q: Could you clarify, please? At one point you said "specific and credible" and then appeared to correct yourself because you said the credibility is unknown.
Q: Is this a specific, credible threat or a specific threat?
Quigley: This is a specific threat with a credibility unknown.
You can take a combination of factors, Mik, as you evaluate the information you have. The information, as an example, could be very general and non-specific, but if it would come from credible sources that you have very high confidence in, that might put you in one category, if you will. And in this particular case we've got fairly specific information, but the credibility is unknown. So again, you're not quite sure what to make of it, so you do the cautious course of action and go up to the higher level.
Q: You mentioned a minute ago that there are family members, civilians who are in Bahrain, in particular. Any plans to bring those folks home? Or has any advice been given to the contractors to get out of the area?
Quigley: All of the family members, the contractors, and what have you, are certainly very much aware of the threat condition that exists both throughout the region in general, and specifically in Qatar and Bahrain. But I am not aware of any move to bring the families out or encourage them to leave; I am not aware of that.
Q: Craig, is this more than one threat, or is this -- is this from one particular source involving both countries, or is this -- would you say this is more than one threat?
Quigley: Multiple sources.
Quigley: Mm-hm. (Affirmative response.)
Q: Multiple sources perhaps involving the countries separately as opposed to --
Quigley: I can't give you any more details, sorry.
Q: And multiple threats?
Quigley: And multiple threats, yes.
Q: What are the sources of the threats? And have they been linked in any way to Osama bin Laden?
Quigley: I can't go into that either, Jim. I'm sorry.
Q: Could you give us a thumbnail sketch of what Threatcon Delta means?
Q: What happens when you go to Threatcon Delta?
Quigley: Let me read a quick definition -- and it is quick, so please bear with me -- as to what that entails. These are the conditions in which you would consider going to a Threat Condition Delta: "A terrorist attack has occurred or intelligence indicates likely terrorist action against a specific location."
Number two, "It is normally declared as a localized warning." Number three, "It requires the implementation of mandatory security measures tailored, again, to the local scenario," and fourth, "Commanders are authorized and encouraged to supplement these mandatory security measures as they see fit, based on their knowledge of their local area." That is Delta. Now, you have --
Q: And what happens when the forces go to -- what do they do to take themselves to this Threatcon Delta?
Quigley: Each local command has a very specific set of actions that it would take when you're in Alpha or Bravo or Charlie or Delta. You move from one to the other; typically, you include all of the lesser implementation items as you go to the higher level. So quite literally, local commanders would go to this list of actions that they are required to take and then those that they have chosen to take to supplement those, and implement those on the local level.
Q: Craig, the troops that are based there, do they ever -- are they ever at a normal level, or is there always -- are they always on some level of security alert, given the environment in which they are deployed?
Quigley: You have a threat condition called "normal," okay? And it is Threatcon Normal, and that's pretty much just what it sounds like, honestly. In that part of the world, it's very common that you are at an elevated Threatcon level, but it's not mandatory. You always assess the threats, the information, the intelligence that you have, weigh the credibility and come to a decision based on that combination of factors.
Q: Given the definition of Threatcon Delta, why, after the explosion that maimed the Cole, didn't the military there go immediately to Threatcon Delta, because it's a terrorist attack?
Quigley: Well, you did have the terrorist attack, but again, it tends to be a very localized sort of an action taken. It's not the norm that you would put Delta, for instance, in an entire region, like the entire Central Command area of responsibility.
Q: Didn't the Cole -- (off mike)?
Quigley: They did go to Charlie throughout the CENTCOM AOR right after the attack, but you see Delta more of a localized application.
Q: And could you also give us an update on where the Cole stands, physically?
Quigley: Sure. Yes. She is still in Aden, at the same position you all have seen her for the past couple weeks since the attack. She is stable. She is providing her own ship's power. There are a total of seven other ships either in the port of Aden or standing off the coast very close by.
Q: (Off mike) -- far out?
Quigley: I'm sorry?
Q: Blue Marlin anywhere?
Quigley: Blue Martin got underway yesterday from Dubai, and she is scheduled to arrive there this weekend, Saturday, I believe. She is being escorted by a U.S. Navy destroyer, the Hamilton, Paul Hamilton. She is expected to get there this Saturday and will need to move ultimately -- will start immediately in preparing to load the Cole. Because of the water depth -- I think you all have seen sketches or videotape of how the Blue Marlin operates. You literally sink the vessel, flood her down to a seawater or a sea level depth, and then the Cole is then placed on top, pump out the tanks, and the vessel rises with the Cole in support skids to support the transit.
To do that, you need something in the neighborhood of about 25 meters of water, so you're going to have to come out of the harbor of Aden to get that water depth so that you can have the Blue Marlin be lowered into the water to do that. And then as soon as she is secure on board and everything has checked, she'll start the transit back to the United States. I'm told by the Navy that still no final decisions have been made as to her destination, whether it would be Norfolk or one of the yards that actually build that class of ship.
Q: Is there any patching up of the hull that has to go on before she gets on --
Quigley: I don't believe so.
Q: Will the Cole be able to get out of the harbor under her own power, or will the tug have to --
Quigley: No, she'll be towed. We have a fleet tug, the Catawba, there that has been on station now for several days, will assist in the movement to do that.
Q: As part of the measures taken, have restrictions been put on the movements of military personnel in Bahrain? For instance, are they restricted to their bases or their homes, that kind of thing?
Quigley: There's not quite that level of restriction, Jim, in the local area there in Bahrain, but there is additional measures taken to make sure that you're simply more aware. A lot of it is simple awareness of your surroundings. I mean, you and I here would walk down the street on any given day and you might not be all that cognizant of the surroundings. We encourage military members, family members, contractors, what have you, to just be more aware of the surroundings that you have.
There are -- if there are any specific, I mean really localized threats, that would be communicated as well to the forces there and the family members. If there are areas that are specifically off- limits, I'm not aware of them from here. They might have that at the local level. But it's all about awareness and making sure that facilities and individuals are just as safe as we can make them, given the threats that we have received.
Q: The Navy has had a large presence in Bahrain for a long time. Has there ever been a significant attack in either Bahrain or Qatar against U.S. military forces or civilians, for that matter?
Quigley: None that comes to my memory right off-hand, Chris. I'd have to do a lot more historical research to give you a comprehensive answer; but nothing that comes immediately to mind, no.
Q: Since the Cole situation, has the Pentagon, has the Navy, given thought to better security for its warships in the United States, well outside of the Persian Gulf? Do you regard that ships that are anchored in Norfolk and, you know, wherever -- San Diego -- are vulnerable?
Quigley: I would say that there isn't anybody that's going to tell you that they're invulnerable, John. And I think if you take a look at actions taken over the past -- let me expand it a little bit -- 15, 20 years, you've seen a great deal of additional emphasis placed on security, even in homeports. Now -- and I could expand that beyond the Navy as well to Air Force bases, Army installations and the like.
You have a local threat condition at U.S. homeport facilities as you do in overseas areas, as well. And the procedures are very similar in that it's a constant process of evaluating new information, taking the appropriate action, given the specificity of the threats that are received and the confidence you have in the credibility of the sources.
You will see U.S. installations go to a higher or a lower threat condition based on the receipt of that information over time.
Q: The standard procedure in dealing with home port security, to the best of your knowledge, is not changing from what it is today?
Quigley: You have seen everybody in this country, particularly the military, be acutely aware of the attack on the Cole. I would suggest that probably every installation's security manager, commanding officer, their security force, is taking a good, hard look at the procedures they have in place, and saying, "Are we still okay? Is this something that we should take a good, hard look at and something that we should perhaps change?" And I think you're probably seeing that throughout the armed forces, both here and abroad.
Q: Craig, is there indication that, given what happened with the Cole and now this series of threats, that in fact we are seeing a more -- or, the United States is seeing a more concerted attempt by extremists of one kind or another to keep the military off balance, to keep the United States off balance, given what's going on in the Middle East, as well as what's going on here politically at home?
Quigley: I think that you can point to an increase in threats, certainly, and, unfortunately, some actions in the past 10 or 15 or 20 years against U.S. interests overseas. We are not universally welcomed in a lot of places overseas, and the forces there have shown their objections to U.S. military presence in a variety of ways; unfortunately, some of them very violent.
So I think that you can't peg it to a particular event or even a series of events, but I think it's more a commentary on the methods chosen to make the statements of opposition to the presence of U.S. military forces overseas over a period of several years.
Q: The JAG Man investigation into the Cole, do you know when that will be completed, and will the results be released?
Quigley: I don't know. Let me have you ask the Navy that one. There are a total of three efforts that are now either just started or about to, and that's the Cole Commission with General Crouch and Admiral Gehman, the FBI, and the JAG Manual investigation.
I know only the barest minimum of details, I'm sorry. We can get that for you, but you can probably get it a lot quicker by going straight to the Navy.
Q: Craig, a couple things. Are there any other changes in force protection levels anywhere else in CENTCOM or the Eastern Med? And secondly, have any either security forces, FAST teams, other anti- terrorism assets been moved into either of those two regions anytime this month?
Quigley: You've got the entire CENTCOM area of responsibility is at Charlie. That happened right after the attack on the Cole. And then the only exceptions to that in the rest of the area, in the AOR are Qatar and Bahrain. So that's the first part.
Q: And Aden, right?
Quigley: And Aden, yes. I'm sorry, I -- and Aden. Certainly.
Q: They're at Delta --
Quigley: At Delta also. That's right. I mean, that went to --
Q: (Off mike.)
Quigley: Yes. Yemen went to Delta right -- immediately after the attack on the Cole. But Qatar and Bahrain were over the weekend, as I indicated.
You still have about a hundred military members on the two FAST platoons that were sent there very shortly after the attack. They are still present. I think the total head count is 101, I believe, in Yemen -- correct -- in Aden, specifically. And you have, I think 132 is the count, total count, of uniformed personnel that are still ashore, with the balance of those having moved onto the Tarawa and other ships. The Joint Task Force commander, for instance, and his staff have moved onto the Tarawa. And there they will stay.
Now, the other elements of the federal government -- the FBI and whatnot -- have remained ashore. They would come and go from the ships for meetings and coordination efforts and the like. But they do not -- they have not moved to the ships as the uniformed military have.
Q: Any other movements of security forces to either Bahrain or Qatar?
Quigley: No, sir. Not that I'm aware of
Q: Did the Pentagon always publicize an elevation in threatcon?
Quigley: Not always.
Quigley: But in this particular case -- we discussed that quite a bit this morning, as a matter of fact. But in this particular case, with it being very clearly communicated to the families, the contractors, the military members in both Qatar and Bahrain -- if you were on the ground in Bahrain, for instance, and had any purpose at all going on board any of the facilities there, you would see signs that would tell you that they were in Threatcon Delta.
So for this particular circumstance, it just didn't seem to have a purpose to try to not acknowledge that.
We don't do that in all cases and we don't do it in all locations, certainly, as you see threat conditions go up and down around the world over time, but in this particular case, we just thought that this was a course of action that made the most sense.
Q: What was the threatcon a couple of hours before the Cole was bombed?
Q: For the Cole, in Yemen harbor, in Aden harbor.
Quigley: It was Bravo.
Quigley: Mm-hm. And that was the one that the ship had set in place.
Q: General Zinni reminded us last week that sooner or later every ship has to pull into port for various services. Can you tell us how long the ships that are in the Gulf now will be able to stay before somebody has to pull in? And in the meantime, are any steps being taken to harden any of these ports so that when somebody has to pull in, the port will be secure?
Quigley: I don't think we've put a timetable on it yet, Dale, other than to say that for the foreseeable future, they'll remain at sea.
Q: Is there any connection between the threats in Qatar and Bahrain and the Cole bombing other than the obvious thing that they both involve terrorism?
Quigley: Again, I'm sorry, I'm not going to get into a characterizing the threat other than to say that we felt it was specific but the credibility of the sources was not clear.
Q: Craig, has the --
Q: -- Pentagon got its act together enough on this -- on the whole Cole situation for Pentagon officials to show up at hearings tomorrow on the Cole, like they --
Quigley: Oh, yes, indeed.
Q: Well, they didn't last week.
Quigley: For --
Q: There was no explanation immediately offered.
Quigley: Yeah. For those of you who may not know, there's a hearing scheduled tomorrow on the Hill. At 9:00 in the morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee has its hearing; at 2:00 in the afternoon, the House Armed Services Committee. And both bodies are looking into -- looking for testimony and asking questions on the Cole attack. I am told --
Q: Are those open?
Quigley: I am told that both hearings will start open and then move to a closed posture.
Q: Who will appear?
Quigley: Testifiers will include General Franks, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Walt Slocombe, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Vern Clark, and -- and one more.
Quigley: Ah, and Vice Admiral Tom Wilson, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Q: Where in the Senate? Is that Hart 215?
Quigley: I don't have the room, I'm sorry.
Q: Craig, in Qatar, besides the prepositioned sets of -- I guess it's a brigade set of equipment, Army equipment, what other U.S. installations are there?
Quigley: No installations. Again, I think a question was asked before on airfields and what not. There are no airfields at which we have U.S. aircraft permanently stationed. They may come there for a short time during an exercise or some other purpose, but nothing of a permanent nature.
Q: Is it fair to say these threats at Qatar were directed at possible attacks on the prepositioned sets of equipment there?
Quigley: I'm sorry, Tony, I just can't provide that level of detail.
Q: New subject?
Quigley: New subject.
Q: Could you give us an update, please, on the movement of Iraqi troops that was of some concern to U.S. officials?
Quigley: You will still see, west of Baghdad, a sizeable collection of Iraqi units. We have continued to watch these over the past -- gosh, two, three weeks, I guess, Mik, something in that ballpark. This is -- as we've said before, this is their annual training cycle for the Iraqi armed forces. We continue to pay very close attention to what they're doing.
Our best assessment is that it is indeed training activity, and that they have not postured themselves to be in a threatening posture from which they would do some threatening act towards any of their neighbors. There's still a lot of Iraq to the west of where the forces are located. The movements seem to be local and, again, training and administrative in nature. So we'll continue to watch, but we still don't see anything threatening.
Q: In the Middle East it's being interpreted as a massing of Iraqi troops on their western border in support of Palestinians. That's the way it's being interpreted in Israel.
Quigley: I can't speak to the motivation of placing them west of Baghdad, as they have. But I would not agree with that characterization. Like I say, there's a lot of Iraq to the west of where these forces are located, and they don't have with them the essential elements of logistic support that you would require in order to use them in an offensive or a threatening manner.
Q: So --
Quigley: So we very much think that it is training-related, as part of their annual training cycle.
Q: And you wouldn't characterize it as massing on the border of Syria, for example?
Quigley: I would not characterize it that way.
Q: This is the Hammurabi --
Q: Can you give us a ballpark estimate of how many? What size the force is?
Quigley: I don't have that with me. I'll see if I can get it.
Q: That is the Hammurabi Division, though, right?
Q: Is there any sign that they've moved aircraft south of the no-fly line?
Quigley: No. We have no indications of that yet, either. I mean, that's another one of the elements, David, that you don't see. I mentioned logistics, but there's other elements that you would need to have relatively co-located if your intent was threatening and to put in an offensive posture, and that's another item that we don't see present in that vicinity with the forces west of Baghdad.
Q: Another subject?
Q: A quick one for --
Q: Go ahead.
Quigley: Go ahead.
Q: So you're not -- the forces aren't south of 36, are they?
Quigley: No. No. No. They're west of Baghdad and a little northwest.
Q: What do you hear from the U.S. officials in Pyongyang regarding what commitments the North Koreans may have made on curtailing or eliminating their ballistic missile program?
Quigley: Yeah. We don't have a readout yet here in the building, Bob. I think the goal is probably to let the secretary of State come back to the United States and brief the president first before there is any readout of the activities there. I can't characterize it for you quite yet, in any way. I'm sorry. We don't have any -- we did have a couple of people with the secretary's party, but we don't have any feedback yet.
Q: Has there been any troop movement or anything unusual or different that you've noticed in the North Koreans?
Quigley: No. No, not at all.
Q: Nothing has changed?
Quigley: Mm-mm. (Negative.)
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